How Are Boat Slips and Boat Docks Different?

If you own a boat or intend to buy one, you’ve probably heard phrases like “boat slip” and “boat dock” tossed around. While some people might use them interchangeably, these items are different. Take a closer look at the boat slip vs. dock conversation to learn which one may be the better option for you.

What Is a Boat Slip?

A boat slip is essentially a parking space for a dock. Boat slips often have an F or U configuration to create a three-sided port with a single entry point. A boat can slip into this parking spot with ease, and you’ll often see many of them in a row. 

What Is a Boat Dock?

If a boat slip is a parking space, boat docks are for parallel parking. Rather than having three closed sides and one open side, a boat dock is the reverse. Three sides are open, and boats tether to a single dock strip. Docks often take the form of a large T shape.

What Are the Differences Between Boat Slips and Boat Docks?

The boat slip vs. boat dock debate comes down to three significant factors—space, ease of use and cost. 


Boat slips are most commonly used in marinas and other public storage spaces because you can get more boats in a line, and the edges form a protective barrier between boats. Docks are typical with large barges or cruise ships, and you’ll also find them on private properties with only one boat.

Ease of Use

Another difference between slips and docks is how easy it is to get in and out of the boat once it’s docked. A boat slip provides more stability with pieces on three sides, while boat docks may rock as you step in and out.


When deciding between a private dock or boat slip, you should also consider the cost. Since docks require fewer pieces, they’re usually more cost-effective than boat slips. If you’re not sharing your space with other boats, it may be an excellent option.

Discover Our Wide Range of Dock Accessories

At EZ Dock, you can buy configurable dock pieces and set your boat up with any structure that works for your needs. These sections, paired with our accessories, make your dock the best one on the lake. Get a quote today, or get in touch with our team to learn more.